Stop Complaining! A defense of the traditional A-F (60-100) game review scale.
I'm fairly sick of people criticizing the traditional A-F, "60-100" point (or 6-10 point) scale used by most video game review sites and magazines.
The scale is adopted from the A-F grading scale in the American education system. The idea is that if you take a test worth 100 points, and you only score 70 points, then your performance was subpar, and you get a C. 80 points, you get a B, and 90+ points, you get an A. I keep hearing game editors and reviewers spouting about how we need to use the full spectrum of the 100 point scale. They proclaim that a 60 or 70 should be a reasonable score, and even a "40" can mean a game is bad, but not atrocious. Marc Doyle, Metacritic’s Games Editor, notoriously stated "I feel that ANY scale simply needs to be converted directly with its lowest possible grade equating to 0, and the highest to 100." This would mean a “B” grade would equate to approximately a 66/100! What are you thinking, Marc?!
Metacritic: Conflating and confusing review scores since 2001.
This is fundamentally flawed, because it neglects to understand the origins of the scale. The reason we usually only use 60-100 is because anything below 70 is, in academic culture, a FAILING grade. As in, "stay away, this game only scored 60 points out of 100, and isn't worth your time." To score lower than 60, that's like a student not even showing up for the test, or in game terms, the game not even being finished (granted, some games seem to be shipped in this condition anyway).
If everyone on Earth suddenly started using this scale, the world would explode.
A score of 70 should be the quality equivalent of a "C", meaning it's mediocre; not terrible, but certainly not very good. A "B" is a good game that many people will enjoy, but isn't a homerun. An "A" means the game hit all the right notes, is well made and fun, and is worth playing to anyone interested in the genre. A 95+ means it's a grand slam (I guess the metaphor has switched to baseball now), and anyone interested in video games should check it out, because the developers really know how to "ace" their test, i.e. make a f***ing great game.
Think about it: what would happen if you went to school one day and the teacher decided that scoring 50 out of 100 was a passing grade? How simultaneously awesome and idiotic would that be?
There is only one right way to fail, and this is it.
I never understood why this grading scale was so hard for people to comprehend. Yeah, there are 100 points possible, but why reinvent the wheel and try to subvert the entire national/global mindset about what it means to get a certain number score? Number scores out of 100 always correspond in our heads to a letter grade, so what's wrong with giving a lousy game an "F" or a "D", and rating all games that aren't downright abysmal a "C" or above? Yeah, a score of "100" should be rare, but it doesn't seem that unreasonable to grant A's and B's - that should be a sign of a successful game, not a rarity in the industry.